Sunday Morning Ramble
Yes, I know. It’s Sunday. I’m supposed to post on spirituality. You’ve been waiting all week. I tried, honest. I started out to post on surrender … and exactly how much we’re supposed to turn over to God. I collected some excellent proverbs and quotes to lead with: God, grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot change (the Serenity Prayer); and Trust God but tie your camel to a tree (Arab proverb). In my foggy memories of a Catholic adolescence, I found Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and render unto God the things that are God’s by You Know Who. I don’t quote Jesus much here but it seemed to fit. I wanted to be sure, so I did some Sunday Morning Internet Research and found an essay by Jeffery S. Barr titled Render Unto Caesar: A Most Misunderstood New Testament Passage.
What followed was a reasoned, intelligent analysis of what he calls the Tribute Episode citing the historical political and biblical environment, the formal rhetoric common in first century rabbinic literature, and the details of the episode. It’s the kind of reasoned discussion that might have kept me Catholic (or Catholic longer) many years ago. Instead, I got, You can’t take religion in college because you have the true religion. Just sayin’. Anyway, I was officially distracted. The essay argued that the Tribute Episode was an example of the subtle sedition against the Roman rule that Jesus often used … and that indeed, he was saying in a subtle way that his followers would understand … but the Romans would miss … that tribute to Caesar was illicit. In effect, the lesson is that civil disobedience is sometimes justified, a notion that appears in the 1994 (Catholic) Catechism.
What a libertarian notion, I thought, glancing up to the header of the essay. LewRockwell.com. I click on Home and find the subtitle, anti-state, anti-war, pro-market. Libertarian indeed. I find an essay titled When Did I Become the Government’s Customer that has me saying, YES! YES! Maybe I am a libertarian. Then I find When the Government Declares You a Non-Person, a rant against abortion which cites slavery and the Holocaust. Where am I again? Who the heck is Lew Rockwell? Enter Wikipedia. I am indeed on strange ground. Lew Rockwell is one of the most influential proponents of the paleoconservative faction of “right-wing libertarianism” whose website carries essays which argue against the participation of the United States in the Second World War, speculation about an end of the United States as a cohesive union, and assertions the Western world is threatened by an intersection of fascism and socialism as politicians and states centralize their power. Yikes.
Still one more article intrigues me … Amy Alkon on Homo Barbarus, a review of the book, I See Rude People: one woman’s battle to beat some manners into an impolite society. According to the article, Amy Alkon defines the “new rudeness” as “people wildly indifferent to other people,” and I’m saying, YES! YES! again. There’s a quote from the book:
A few decades later, the adult-child line is no longer blurred; it’s snarled. We’ve got eight-year-old girls dressing like hookers while their mothers dress like eight-year-old girls. Last week, I stood in line behind a big white vinyl Hello Kitty purse – on the arm of a 40-something mother of two. Forty-something dads bicker with their kids over whose turn it is on the Nintendo, and sociologist Frank Furedi, who wrote on Spiked.com about trying to wean his two-year-old son off “Teletubbies,” and realizing the futility of it after spotting a bunch of undergraduates glued to an episode of the show in a bar.
I click on the title and find myself at Amazon.com where the book is on sale for $6.78** (shipping Free for Amazon Prime Customers!! Only 9 copies left!!). How can I say no? Better hurry. So I See Rude People arrives Wednesday and I’m snarky not spiritual on Sunday. See what happens when you consort with libertarians?
** The Kindle version, by the way, is $9.99. Go figure.